by Nancy Bestor
I can remember in great detail every single thing I (and my children) have left on a plane. I can see each item clearly in my brain—Sarah’s pink aloha Hawaii purse with a disposable camera inside, left on the return from our first trip to Hawaii (many tears were shed). My black lightweight Royal Robbins windbreaker, left on a return trip from the Bahamas. And, most recently, my iPhone 5, left on a late night, homeward bound flight from Las Vegas.
I didn’t put my phone into the seat pocket. No, it was sitting on my lap, and after an exhausting day and a half at a trade show in Vegas—one of my least favorite cities—I fell asleep, and when I woke up to get off the plane, my phone must have slipped off my lap and in between the seats. My foggy brain didn’t notice until I got home an hour later. I called Alaska Airlines immediately, figuring the chances that the plane was still in Medford were pretty good, and how hard really would it be for someone to check my seat (I knew the number) for my phone? Well, apparently it is pretty hard. While Alaska kindly took all my contact information down, and said they would get in touch if they found my phone, I never heard back.
I have to admit, I was so sure they’d quickly find my phone that I did nothing to acquire a new one. I did not buy one, and did not even borrow a phone until several days had gone by. I was (gasp!) OFF THE GRID for several days. But after four days, my Snapchat friends and Instagram followers were calling loudly to me, so I borrowed a phone from a friend, still sure that mine would be found ANY MINUTE and I would not have to buy a brand new and quite pricey iPhone 6S. But after two weeks with a borrowed phone, I decided the travel gods (or the techno gods, or maybe the spirit of Steve Jobs himself) were trying to tell me it was time to upgrade my 3 ½ year old phone to a new model, so I bit the bullet and bought a new one.
Fast forward six months. I’ve adapted to my new-fangled phone, and indeed am happy that I had an excuse to upgrade. Bob and I are sitting at our dinner table, when we get a call from………you guessed it, Alaska Airlines’ Luggage Recovery Center in Seattle. “Hi this message is for Nancy. I’m calling in reference to an iPhone left on an Alaska Airlines plane back in March. We do have it here in central baggage. I know it’s been quite a long while! Please give us a call so we can arrange to get this back to you.”
So I called back the next day and when I told the Alaska Airlines employee that I was returning a call regarding a phone that had been found six months after I left it on a plane, she responded with “Wow, you have got to be kidding me!” She told me they would Federal Express my phone back to me that day, and when I interjected with “I’ve got to ask you a question,” before I could even get the question out, she replied, “I have no idea. It does sometimes take a while for lost items to make their way up here to our recovery center.” They recover hundreds of lost/forgotten phones, she said. And each one has to be charged up and then investigated to determine which phones belong to which customers that have filed claims. But as to why it took six months for this to happen? She had no idea.
My old iPhone did indeed arrive via Federal Express the next day. And it sits on my dresser, feeling neglected, waiting for someone to pick it up and use it. So, this story did indeed have a happy ending, for all involved. Except my old, and now quite lonely, iPhone 5.